Readings, workshops at Atlanta literary event

Letters Festival

Thursday, Nov. 14, at MOTHER, 447 Edgewood Ave., Atlanta.

8 p.m. Kickoff Event with readings from Jericho Brown, Matt DeBenedicitis, Jacob Scheier and Kim Henderson. $10-$12 in advance, $15 at the door

Friday, Nov. 15, at the Goat Farm Arts Center, 1200 Foster St., Atlanta.

6:30 p.m. Author talk with Roxane Gay. Free.

8 p.m. Readings with Scott McClanahan, Mary Miller, Ajay Vishwanathan, Monic Ductan. $10-$12 in advance, $15 at the door.

Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Goat Farm Arts Center, 1200 Foster St., Atlanta.

2 p.m. Poetry Workshop led by Jacob Scheier. Free.

2 p.m. Fiction Workshop led by Kim Henderson. Free.

4 p.m. Panel: “Diverse Voices in Independent Literature” with Roxane Gay, Matthew Salesses, Mary Miller, Chad Prevost. Free.

8 p.m. Readings with Roxane Gay, Blake Butler, Matthew Salesses, Jenny Sadre-Orafai. $10-$12 in advance, $15 at the door.

Tickets are available on the event’s website, discounts available in advance or for a donation to the event’s IndieGoGo fundraising campaign before Nov. 8. Participants are also asked to register for free events online in advance.


Writing is a solitary pursuit. That's why any opportunity for writers to gather and discuss their art is invaluable, say organizers of Atlanta's newest literary event, the Letters Festival.

The Letters Festival takes place Nov. 14-16, with the bulk of the activities occuring at the Goat Farm Arts Center, a former cotton gin factory on Atlanta’s west side. The festival will give writers and readers the chance to congregate, share ideas and celebrate at readings, discussion panels and workshops, all designed to help advance the practice of writing.

“We want to put Atlanta on the map as not only having an immense amount of literary talent but also being a source of reflection to the greater independent literary world,” says one organizer, Stephanie Dowda. “We hope to present an event that lights fires of inspiration in all who attend.”

Many events in the new Letters Festival, such as the writing workshops and panel discussions, are free and open to the public. The event kicks off Thursday, Nov. 15, with a reception at the Old Fourth Ward pub and nightclub MOTHER, costing $15 at the door.

“Atlanta’s literary community has been growing and evolving for years now,” says Atlanta-based writer Matt DeBenedictis. DeBenedictis is the founder of the press Safety Third Enterprises and the author of three chapbooks, including “Congratulations! There’s No Last Place If Everyone Is Dead.” He is one of the writers scheduled to read at the opening event at MOTHER.

“Atlanta has become a place spoken about in high regard when it comes to the written word. The Letters Festival is happening because it’s about time, and this city deserves it,” he said.

The workshops, organizers say, are an opportunity for emerging writers to interact with published authors and discuss the written word, the publishing industry, and the role of literature in today’s world. The poetry workshop will be led by Toronto-based poet and journalist Jacob Scheier, while the fiction workshop will be led by California-based writer Kim Henderson, the author of “The Kind of Girl,” which won the Seventh Annual Rose Metal Press Short Shot Chapbook Contest. The workshops are free, but participants are asked to register online at the Letters Festival website in advance.

“We want Atlanta to be full of great writers and strong readers. We figured one of the best ways to achieve that is to feature some great writers and give the festival audience members a chance to interact with them,” said festival co-organizer Scott Daughtridge. “We also wanted to create a few different kinds of interactions, more than just giving the audience a chance to hear the authors read. We hope the audience will engage with the authors on many different levels.”

Authors appearing at the Letters Festival include: Atlanta- and Georgia-based writers DeBenedictis, Blake Butler, Jericho Brown, Ajay Vishwanathan, Jenny Sadre-Orafai, Monic Ductan, and Chad Prevost, along with visiting writers Mary Miller, Roxane Gay, Jacob Scheier, Scott McClanahan, Matthew Salesses and Kim Henderson.

“There’s so much to look forward to at The Letters Festival,” DeBenedictis said when asked what he’s anticipating most in the weekend. “But I’ve been waiting a long time to see Mary Miller and Roxane Gay read. I’ve been following their words for years now and it’s going to be a gift to hear their voices rather than the all too familiar one in my head.”

But most importantly, he says, the festival will act as a reminder to keep at his work.

He said, “Being a part of The Letters Festival means it’s time to finish up these manuscripts and scribbled outlines I have in cascading piles over my desk.”